Saturday, May 13, 2017

Diary of John Hay: April 28, 1864

Had considerable talk with the President this evening. He understands that the day arranged for Grant’s movement is to be the 2d prox. — Monday. Sherman has asked for a little more time, says that he can't fully come up to his part in the programme before the 5th. Sigel is at work on his.

The stories of Grant’s quarrelling with the Secretary of War are gratuitous lies. Grant quarrels with no one.

The President told a queer story of Meigs. “When McClellan lay at Harrison’s Landing, Meigs came one night to the President and waked him up at the Soldiers' Home to urge upon him the immediate flight of the army from that point — the men to get away on transports, and the horses to be killed, as they could not be saved. Thus often,” says the President, “I, who am not a specially brave man, have had to restore the sinking courage of these professional fighters in critical times.

“When it was proposed to station Halleck in general command, he insisted, to use his own language, on the appointment of a General-in-Chief who should be held responsible for results. We appointed him, and all went well enough until after Pope’s defeat, when he broke down, — nerve and pluck all gone, — and has ever since evaded all possible responsibility, — little more, since that, than a first-rate clerk.”

Granville Moody was here this evening and told a good story about Andy Johnson and his fearful excitement when Buell was proposing to give up Nashville to the enemy. He found him walking up and down the room, supported by two friends. “Moody, I'm glad to see you,” he said. The two friends left, and he and Moody were alone. “We're sold, Moody, we're sold;” fiercely reiterating. “He's a traitor, Moody,” and such. At last, suddenly, “Pray, Moody!” And they knelt down and prayed, Andy joining in the responses like Methodists. After they had done, he said: — “Moody, I feel better. Moody, I'm not a Christian,—no church,—but I believe in God,—in the Bible,—all of it — Moody, but I’ll be damned if Nashville shall be given up.

The President was much amused by a story I told him of Gurowski.

The venomous old Count says:— “I despise the anti-Lincoln Republicans. I say I go against Lincoln, for he is no fit for be President; dé say dé for one term (holding up one dirty finger) bimeby dé beat Lincoln, den dé for two term (holding up two unclean digits): dé is cowards  and Ass!”

A despatch just received from Cameron stating that the Harrisburgh convention had elected Lincoln delegates to Baltimore properly instructed. The President assents to my going to the field for this campaign if I can be spared from here.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 186-8; See Michael Burlingame and John R. Turner Ettlinger, Editors, Inside Lincoln’s White House,: the complete Civil War Diary of John Hay, p. 191-2 for the full entry.

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